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Creatinine clearance test

The creatinine clearance test helps provide information about how well the kidneys are working. The test compares the creatinine level in urine with the creatinine level in blood.

Creatinine is a breakdown product of creatine, which is an important part of muscle.

How the Test is Performed

This test requires both a urine sample and blood sample. You will collect your urine for 24 hours and then have blood taken. Follow instructions exactly. This ensures accurate results.

How to Prepare for the Test

Your health care provider may ask you to temporarily stop any medicines that may affect the test results. These include antibiotics and stomach acid medicines. Be sure to tell your provider about all the medicines you take.

Do not stop taking any medicine before talking to your doctor.

How the Test will Feel

The urine test involves only normal urination. There is no discomfort.

To draw blood, when the needle is inserted, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. These soon go away.

Why the Test is Performed

The creatinine clearance test is used to estimate glomerular filtration rate (GFR). GFR is a measure of how well the kidneys are working, especially the kidneys’ filtering units. These filtering units are called glomeruli.

Creatinine is removed, or cleared, from the body entirely by the kidneys. If kidney function is abnormal, creatinine level increases in the blood because less creatinine is released through the urine.

Normal Results

Clearance is often measured as milliliters/minute (ml/min). Normal values are:

  • Male: 97 to 137 ml/min.
  • Female: 88 to 128 ml/min.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results (lower than normal creatinine clearance) may indicate:

Risks

Risks of the test involve the blood draw process.

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Gerber GS, Brendler CB. Evaluation of the urologic patient: history, physical examination, and urinalysis. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, et al., eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 3.

Israni AK, Kasiske BL. Laboratory assessment of kidney disease: glomerular filtration rate, urinalysis, and proteinuria. In: Taal MW, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, et al., eds. Brenner and Rector’s The Kidney. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 25.

McPherson RA, Ben-Ezra J. Basic examination of urine. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry’s Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 28.

Update Date: 8/25/2013

Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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